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Discussion Starter #1
Hello everyone,

I am in the market for axle assemblies. I'd like to upgrade the front to a 3" OD and 0.5" wall thickness with 4.56 R&P, ARB locker, and 35-spline axle shafts. I plan to continue running 35" tires as this is my daily driver and any substantial decrease (i.e., 3-4 mpg) in fuel mileage would be unacceptable to me.

I have found numerous front axle assemblies that I am considering, but I am having great difficulty finding an aftermarket Dana 44 rear axle assembly with all the above requirements. What are people running who have aftermarket Dana 44s?

Edit: I have a Sport with a Dana 30 front axle and Trac-Lok LSD (on both axles).
 

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Currie has a RockJock 44 for the rear, but most simply go to a 60 if they are upgrading the rear.
You can simply upgrade your D44 rear axle. You can truss it. You can upgrade to stronger axle shafts. You can replace the rear diff / locker with a stronger one.

I am not sure about your comment about a decrease in fuel mileage being unacceptable. 35's will decrease your fuel mileage. I assume it is a matter of how much it decreases your fuel mileage.

You can easily run 35's on a stock or near stock D44 rear. It is usually only the front D30 people worry about. But at 4.56 gears you likely don't even have to worry about that. How hard do you plan on wheeling it?
 

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A couple of thoughts come to mind.

  • You'll be adding a few hundred pounds of weight with a axle swap, I don't think it's reasonable to expect the same MPG.
  • IMO the stock front is fine for 35s, add truss (or sleeves) and gussets if you're going off road.
  • The stock rear 44 is 3.15 x .25. Most aftermarket D44 are 3.25 x .375. Not much of a difference for several thousand dollars. IMO if going off road add some truss to the stock housing if you're worried about strength. If you want 35 spline then add an ARB locker and shafts to the factory housing.
  • FWIW we've run 37s and 40s on the factory rear housing on our '14 for 90k with no issues. The front 44 has truss/gussets and made it 90k with no issues. The stock 44 housing is the same strength as the stock 30.
 

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I wouldn't bother replacing the axles if you are sticking with 35's. Just strengthen them a bit and run what you have
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I forgot to mention that my current front axle is the Dana 30 (I have a Sport). Edited my original post to include that.

Regarding fuel mileage, I just don't want it to get substantially worse. Heavier axles and 37s would be that tipping point. Heavier axles alone, I could bear. I don't plan on wheeling it hard:

1. I really can't afford to break anything.
2. It's my daily driver.
3. Not likely to go visit trails anytime soon.

One of the main reasons why I am bothering with anything axle-related is because I believe the spider gears in the rear axle (differential) are broken. I've had gear tooth fragments in the differential oil when changing the fluid on a couple of occasions. So, I think it's just a matter of time.
 

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I forgot to mention that my current front axle is the Dana 30 (I have a Sport). Edited my original post to include that.

Regarding fuel mileage, I just don't want it to get substantially worse. Heavier axles and 37s would be that tipping point. Heavier axles alone, I could bear. I don't plan on wheeling it hard:

1. I really can't afford to break anything.
2. It's my daily driver.
3. Not likely to go visit trails anytime soon.

The front axle is where i would focus my attention, not the rear. Keep your stock rear, upgrade the shafts and add an ARB if you want. Truss if you are really worried. Money would be better spent on a new D44 for the front.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
The front axle is where i would focus my attention, not the rear. Keep your stock rear, upgrade the shafts and add an ARB if you want. Truss if you are really worried. Money would be better spent on a new D44 for the front.
Thanks. That sounds good. It will save me a lot of money. Do you happen to know if the Sport Dana 44 and Rubicon Dana 44 accept the same ARB lockers?
 

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Thanks. That sounds good. It will save me a lot of money. Do you happen to know if the Sport Dana 44 and Rubicon Dana 44 accept the same ARB lockers?
The only difference between the sport and rubi 44 is the spline count and the shafts are slightly different length on the rubi 44. If you are replacing the carrier with an ARB, then you just need to get the shafts with the splines to match the ARB.

I believe ARB makes three rear air lockers for the D44. One is a 30 spline, which would work for you if you keep your stock shafts, the second i believe is a 32 spline meant for the rubicon D44, the third is a 35 spline ARB which needs new shafts. You either need option 1 with your stock shafts, or option 3 with new shafts. If you know you want bigger shafts (which is a good idea on 37s) then i would go with the 35 spline ARB and 35 spline shafts. This setup would fit either the rubi 44 or sport 44.
 

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Thanks. That sounds good. It will save me a lot of money. Do you happen to know if the Sport Dana 44 and Rubicon Dana 44 accept the same ARB lockers?
No. They absolutely do not. At all.

The Sport Dana 44 uses different size carrier bearings than the Rubicon axle. There is no way to put a Rubicon locker in a Sport Dana 44, and you can't put a Sport locker in a Rubicon axle.

I know. I tried.

When buying a locker for a JK Rubicon, you need to buy a locker specifically for a JK Rubicon.

For the Sport, you need a completely different locker. The short version why:

When Jeep came out with the JK in 2007, they had Dana make changes to the axles (both front and rear, both D44 and D30). They made the ring and pinion gear bigger and beefier. For the Rubicon, they went with a new, slightly bigger differential carrier and 32 spline shafts. But for the Sport and Sahara, they raided the parts bin of the previous generation Dana 44 for the differential carrier.

And then it gets more complicated for no apparent reason. The old Dana 44 has a carrier break between 3.73 and 3.92. When Dana designed the JK D44, they machined out the space for the old generation carrier bearings (smaller than the new Rubicon) and located the pinion gear so that you don't have a carrier break for any of the ratios from 3.21 to 5.38. But they used the old generation Dana 44 30 spline carrier for 3.73 and numerically lower ratios to fit that 3.21 to 5.38 new generation gear set.

So it's really confusing trying to pick out exactly the right locker for a non-Rubicon Dana 44. And don't get me started on how they made the ring gear bolts bigger on the JK gear sets so you have to deal with bolts that don't fit the holes in the carrier and you have to drill them out or find some dual pattern ring gears that will accept the smaller bolts.




I have Eaton E-Lockers front and rear in my 2012 sport. I'm running 27 spline chrome molly shafts, along with an ARTEC truss and gusset kit on my front Dana 30 and it's holding up to 35" tires just fine. My rear axle just has 30 spline chrome molly shafts but with no truss or any other reinforcement. It too is holding up to 35" tires just fine. And I run some significant trails from time to time. I also don't really hit it with much throttle.

I could have gone with ARB lockers but I chose electric lockers instead. There's no reason the ARB won't be a good choice.


If you're not really rough on your Jeep, a properly reinforced Dana 30 and 44 will hold up to 35's alright. As far as upgrades, they are a significant monetary investment. But they will let you get away with far more abuse than a reinforced set of stock axles.

It's getting harder to find aftermarket Dana 44 rear axles simply because the cost difference between a 44 and a 60 means a lot more people just pick the 60. So why bother producing the 44?
 

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Contact East Coast Gear Supply and see what they can do for you.


I had them build me a custom Dana 44 rear axle assembly and it was reasonably priced. They started with a Dana 44 'bare' crate axle (meaning it had no brackets or brakes, but it was loaded with the factory e-locker diff and 4.10 gears, which is what I wanted to stick with). It has slightly thicker tubes than the factory Rubicon D44. I had them fully weld the tubes to the center section along with re-welding the plug welds. I also had Artec Brackets installed and they changed the crush sleeve to a crush sleeve eliminator.


They now have a jig for the JK brackets, so alignment was spot-on.



Back story: The first rear axle I received from ECGS had horrible bracket alignment because they did not have a jig for the brackets at the time. After a few phone calls, they decided to build a bracket jig and then build me a completely new axle assembly. They paid to have the first axle shipped back and the new one shipped out quickly. ECGS has awesome customer service.
 
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